The Arizona Cardinals did a great job signing TE Maxx Williams to a two-year extension worth $7 million. The 25-year-old initially signed with the Cardinals this season on the veteran minimum and his extension is still a bargain considering the impact he has had this season. Williams has played a intricate role in the Cardinals’ strong ground attack, being one of the better run-blocking tight ends in the NFL.
With the future of the tight end position secured, the Cardinals still have a ton of other players with expiring contracts after the 2019 season that should be extended.
OT D.J. Humphries
Humphries is tied for the second-most penalties (11) in the NFL. Even then, he has allowed only one sack on the season. Pass blocking was never his strength but he is not terrible at it. After years of injury-plagued seasons since being the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 2015, he is finally on his way to playing all 16 regular season games. He is the host of the Big Red Rage on 98.7 FM radio and has been a great locker room presence for the Cardinals. He will turn 26 in December and the Cardinals are in talks with him for a contract extension, according to Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic.
Contract: Three-year, $40 million (2020 Cap Hit: $12.5M)
WR Larry Fitzgerald
No explanation needed for him. He is the greatest Cardinal of all time. Speculations of retirement will be underway, like it is every season. He will turn 37 in August.
Contract: One-year, $8 million, fully guaranteed contract
RB Kenyan Drake
The fourth-year running back is thriving in the Cardinals offense. Since being traded from Miami, he has 212 rushing yards and 71 receiving yards. He has been the workhorse running back in Arizona, surpassing David Johnson on the depth chart as the starter. Dolphins never trusted him to be their top back and it still does not make any sense because he has proven to be an explosive playmaker every time. He will turn 26 in January and should remain in Arizona for a while.
Contract: Three-year, $12 million (2020 Cap Hit: $5M)
KR/WR Pharoh Cooper
It is hard not to like Cooper. He was cut by the Cardinals after the preseason, picked up and cut by Bengals. The Cardinals brought him back in the beginning of October and has been a nice safety blanket for Kyler Murray. So far this season, Cooper has already set career-highs in catches (16), receiving yards (151), and scored his first-career touchdown. He has also been a very solid return specialist. The former fourth-round pick by the Rams has worked his way into a lot of playing time in Arizona.
Contract: Two-year, $3 million (2020 Cap Hit: $1.5M)
OT Marcus Gilbert
It would not hurt the Cardinals to bring him back on a one-year prove-it deal. He has worked hard in rehab, since tearing his ACL in the beginning of the season. He has been a good leader for the Cardinals on the sideline and should be an inexpensive player to bring back. Have him compete with Justin Murray for the starting right tackle job next season. The 6-foot-6 330-pound right tackle will turn 32 in February. At the very least, he would be a quality backup.
Contract: One-year, $2 million
DT Zach Kerr
Kerr has been a solid backup to Corey Peters. Though the Cardinals are still below average at stopping the run, they are now ranked 23rd in that category compared to 32nd to begin the season. The six-year veteran is not a big name but he has been decent. He has also earned a respectable 70.5 PFF grade. His familiarity with Vance Joseph’s system in his time with the Broncos should help his case on a potential return. He will turn 30 in August.
Contract: One-year, $1.5 million
Restricted Free Agents to Tender: K Zane Gonzalez, OT Justin Murray
Players Cardinals will want back but should let go
C A.Q. Shipley
He is one of the top pass-blocking centers in the NFL. The problem with him is that he will turn 34 in May. How much longer will he play in the NFL? We know the Cardinals are interested in bringing him back but he should be signed to an extension no longer than two years. Back when Carson Palmer was the quarterback, Keim extended his contract into the 2018 season. Unfortunately for the team, not only did Palmer retire after 2017 but the team also endured $8 million in dead money. Shipley is a good veteran to bring back but maybe the Cardinals should give Mason Cole another chance to be the starter.
OLB Terrell Suggs
This season could be Terrell Suggs’ last year in the NFL. Despite getting five sacks through the first seven games on the season, he only has .5 sack the last four games. He has slowed down after having a hot start. Suggs is a powerful edge rusher but the Cardinals have been lacking speed at the position. He will turn 38 next October and is not getting any younger.
QB Brett Hundley
Steve Keim signed Hundley because he is an Arizona native. Though he is a nice veteran to have to back up Kyler Murray, the Cardinals can save even more money by letting him go and retaining Kyle Sloter from their practice squad. Sloter was a preseason sensation for the Minnesota Vikings this year. Some might say that Sloter is better than Hundley.
Most of my expectations are very similar to fellow SB Nation Cardinals’ writer Walter Mitchell. Patrick Peterson and David Johnson could be on the move after the season, with potential contract restructures for a few players on the roster to free up even more cap space for free agency.
Other Cardinals free agents: RB D.J. Foster, RB Zach Zenner, WR Damiere Byrd, OG Max Garcia, OT Jordan Mills, DT Jonathan Bullard, DT Rodney Gunter, DT Clinton McDonald, OLB Cassius Marsh, OLB Brooks Reed, ILB Joe Walker, CB Tramaine Brock, CB Brandon Williams, S Chris Banjo, S Josh Shaw, CB Kevin Peterson (RFA), S Charles Washington (RFA)